Food allergy compensation claims
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Food Allergy Claims

Food allergies affect a large number of people in the UK. They can cause a range of symptoms, some of which are severe and potentially life-threatening. Because of this, all businesses that sell, produce or deliver food have a legal duty to inform customers if their products contain any allergens, such as peanuts, milk, eggs, sesame or tree nuts.

If you had an allergic reaction as a result of inadequate food labelling, you may be able to claim compensation. If you make a successful food allergy claim, this will cover the pain and suffering caused to you, as well as the related out-of-pocket expenses.

To find out if you are eligible to claim compensation, call 0800 032 3660 today or request a call back. An experienced solicitor will offer you a free case assessment and answer all your questions.

What is an allergic reaction to food?

Food allergies occur when the immune system mistakenly labels specific proteins in food as harmful invaders. When this happens, it will launch an immune response and send antibodies to fight off the threat and protect you.

The chemicals released with this response lead to a wide range of symptoms that can affect the skin, GI tract and respiratory system or even cause systemic reactions. These are typically mild but can be very serious for some people. It is essential for individuals with such allergies to identify their trigger foods and take precautions to avoid exposure to them.

Signs and symptoms of a food allergy

The signs and symptoms of a food allergy can vary significantly from one person to another and may range from mild to severe. Some of the most common ones include:

  • Skin reactions, such as itching, hives (raised, red, itchy bumps on the skin), eczema (itchy, inflamed skin rash) and swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat.
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, tummy pain, and cramping.
  • Respiratory symptoms, such as sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, nasal congestion, coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing.
  • Oral symptoms include an itchy mouth, throat, lips, or tongue after consuming certain raw fruits, vegetables, or nuts.
  • Cardiovascular symptoms, such as rapid or irregular heartbeat, feeling lightheaded, fainting, or low blood pressure (in severe cases).

These symptoms may appear immediately after you have consumed the food you are allergic to or even hours or days later. It is worth mentioning that a food allergy is different from food poisoning, which is caused by ingesting food contaminated with harmful bacteria or other germs.

Can food cause anaphylaxis?

Yes, certain foods can cause anaphylaxis in some individuals. This is a severe and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction that can occur rapidly and affect multiple organ systems in the body. It is an exaggerated immune response triggered by exposure to certain foods such as peanuts, shellfish, fish, milk or eggs.

During anaphylaxis, the body releases a flood of chemicals, including histamine, which can cause a range of symptoms that may include:

  • Constriction and tightening of the airways
  • Difficulty breathing or wheezing
  • Swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat
  • Rapid or weak pulse
  • Skin reactions, such as hives, itching, or flushed skin
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhoea
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Loss of consciousness

Anaphylaxis requires immediate medical attention, as it can quickly progress and become life-threatening. The primary treatment is epinephrine (adrenaline) injected into the muscle, which helps reverse the symptoms. You may also receive oxygen to help you breathe and antihistamines and cortisone to reduce inflammation.

How are food allergies treated?

If you have a food allergy, you will not be able to consume the product you are allergic to or any products that contain them. Thus, you should carefully read the ingredient labels on any pre-packed food or menus at restaurants. If a business fails to warn you about allergens and you have an allergic reaction, you may be able to make a food allergy compensation claim against them.

The two main types of medication used to relieve food allergy symptoms are antihistamines and adrenaline. Antihistamines are effective in mild allergic reactions and work by blocking the effects of histamine. If you are at risk of anaphylaxis, your doctor will prescribe an epinephrine auto-injector (EpiPen). It is essential to carry this medication at all times and know how to use it properly in case of accidental exposure to allergens.

Am I eligible to make a food allergy claim?

If you have suffered a food allergy after eating packaged food or at a restaurant, you may be able to make a personal injury claim. The easiest way to find out if you have a valid case is through a free consultation over the phone with a friendly legal adviser. They will usually ask you some questions to check the validity of your claim:

  • Did another party (the defendant) owe you a duty of care?
  • Did they breach this duty through negligence?
  • Did you suffer an allergic reaction as a result?
  • Did this happen within the last three years?

If all these apply to your case, the solicitor will take on your allergic reaction claim and help you secure the maximum compensation you deserve. They will offer you support and advice throughout the claims process and handle all communication with the other side on your behalf.

What evidence do I need to support a personal injury claim?

In any compensation claim, it is essential to prove who was to blame and how you suffered due to their negligence. To support a food allergy compensation claim, you would typically need the following types of evidence:

  • Medical records that prove the symptoms you experienced and the treatments you received;
  • Allergy testing results that show you are indeed allergic to a specific food;
  • Prescription records for medication needed to manage your allergy, such as epinephrine auto-injectors or antihistamines;
  • Photographs or a video of the restaurant or menu to show there was no signage or allergen information;
  • Pictures of visible symptoms or physical manifestations, such as hives, swelling or skin rashes;
  • Statement from witnesses who saw your allergic reaction and can attest to how it happened;
  • A copy of an accident report or any complaints you’ve made if you suffered an allergic reaction while eating food at a restaurant, pub or a similar location;
  • If you purchased pre-packed food, keep the packaging and the receipt related to the purchase;
  • A sample from the food that caused your allergic reaction so that an allergen test can be performed on it later, if necessary;
  • Your statement about the circumstances of the incident and the allergic reaction you experienced;
  • You should also keep evidence of related losses and expenses, such as medical bills and lost wages during recovery.

What are the most common food allergens?

The most common 14 food allergens, as recognised by the Food Standards Agency (FSA), are:

  • Cereals that contain gluten (such as wheat, barley, rye, and oats)
  • Crustaceans (such as shrimp, crab, lobster, and crayfish)
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Peanuts
  • Soybeans
  • Milk (including lactose)
  • Nuts (such as almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, cashews, pecans, Brazil nuts, pistachios and macadamia nuts)
  • Celery
  • Mustard
  • Sesame seeds
  • Sulphur dioxide and sulphites (at concentrations of more than 10 mg/kg or 10 mg/L)
  • Lupin (a type of legume)
  • Molluscs (such as mussels, oysters, scallops, and squid)

According to the Food Standards Agency, around 1-2% of the UK population is allergic to at least one of the above. Food businesses must ensure the safety of consumers and declare all allergens in their products. Failure to follow food safety laws could make them liable for food allergy compensation.

What types of negligence could result in a food allergy compensation claim?

Examples of negligence that could lead to a food allergy claim include:

  • Not labelling allergens clearly on food packaging or menus;
  • Cross-contamination between allergenic and non-allergenic foods during preparation, storage, or serving due to poor hygiene standards;
  • Using the wrong ingredients in your meal;
  • Failure to remove an allergen from your meal after you informed the restaurant of your allergy and they agreed to do so;
  • Failure to train staff on allergen awareness and cross-contamination prevention;
  • Providing inaccurate or misleading information about the presence of allergens in food products or meals.

According to the Food Information Regulations 2014, all industries that supply food must inform customers if any of the 14 allergens above are present in the products they are selling. Thus, you can claim even if you did not notify a restaurant or food retailer about your allergy, as it is their duty to warn you about any potential allergens present in their products.

Frequently asked questions

Below, we have answered some of the most common questions we receive from people who want to claim food allergy compensation. For further information, do not hesitate to contact us by calling 0800 032 3660 or using our online claim form. You will receive a free consultation with an experienced solicitor who will explain everything to you in detail.

Can a claim be made for a fatal allergic reaction?

Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency that can cause fatalities without immediate intervention. If you lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence and you qualify as their dependent, you might be entitled to make an allergy claim.

You can receive compensation for the lost income expected from your loved one, as well as loss of services such as childcare and doing household chores. Furthermore, you could recover funeral expenses and get a bereavement award of £15,120 for your grief and suffering.

Can I claim compensation for an allergic reaction abroad?

If you suffered an allergic reaction while in another country, you could still make a compensation claim. If you got ill while travelling on a package holiday booked through a UK-based operator, you could claim in the UK, regardless of where you travelled.

If you booked your trip independently, a personal injury solicitor could still help you claim against the responsible business. Based on your circumstances, you may have to start your claim abroad, which can sometimes be beneficial and result in a higher compensation settlement. However, it can also be more difficult, as the rules will vary from country to country.

Can I start a food allergy claim on behalf of my child?

Yes. As a parent or legal guardian, you are entitled to claim food allergy compensation for your child. Your solicitor will guide you through the claims process and help you apply to the court to be named as their litigation friend.

Once appointed, you will have several responsibilities, such as signing legal documents and making decisions about the claim. If you secure compensation for your child, a judge must decide whether the settlement is fair during an Infant Approval Hearing in court.

What is the time limit to start an allergy claim?

The time limit to start a food allergy compensation claim is three years, starting from the date you got ill. Under the Limitation Act 1980, your case will no longer be valid if you don’t take legal action within this timeframe. There are a few exceptions to this rule:

  • With child injury claims, the three years begin on the child’s 18th birthday, from which they have until turning 21 to start a claim.
  • If the injured party lacks the mental capacity to claim due to a condition such as Down syndrome or Alzheimer’s, the time limit is suspended.
  • If you want to claim for a food allergy reaction abroad, the time limit can vary from country to country and may be shorter than three years.
  • If you lost a loved one due to a severe allergic reaction, you have three years to claim, starting from their death.

How much compensation can I claim for a food allergy?

The amount of compensation you deserve for your allergy claim will depend on the specific losses you incurred. These are grouped into two types of damages:

  • General damages cover the pain, suffering and loss of amenities caused by the food allergy reaction;
  • Special damages cover the related financial expenses, such as medical bills, lost wages during recovery and any travel expenses linked to medical appointments.

According to our compensation calculator, you could receive up to £690 if you are expected to make a full recovery within a week and up to £2,450 if a complete recovery may take up to three months. This does not include special damages, such as lost wages and medication costs, which would be added on top of these amounts.

Can I claim on a No Win No Fee basis?

If you are entitled to claim compensation following an allergic reaction, your solicitor will offer you a 100% no win no fee* agreement. With this service, you only have to pay them if and after you receive compensation. Their success fee is capped at 25% of your settlement, and there are no hidden costs.

With no win on fee, you also have After the Event (ATE) insurance included in your arrangement. This policy will cover all your costs and disbursements if your food allergy claim is unsuccessful, including the defendant’s.

To find out if you are entitled to compensation, get in touch with an experienced solicitor by calling free on 0800 032 3660 or using our online claim form.

* Personal injury claims are offered on a no win, no fee basis. If your claim is successful, your solicitor will receive up to 25% of your compensation as their success fee. Any additional costs, such as legal protection insurance, will be clearly explained to you by your solicitor before you decide to proceed with your claim. Termination fees may apply if you fail to cooperate with your solicitor. This includes deliberately misleading your solicitor, failing to attend scheduled medical or expert examinations, or not appearing at a required court hearing.